How Restaurant Owner Jerry McDonald Succeeded Against The Odds

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( ENSPIRE Community Spotlight ) The Coffee Bay Restaurant Strives to Provide The Best Food and Service In New York

ENSPIRE Contributor: Akeena Hall

Opened last year during the pandemic, the Coffee Bay Restaurant at 3431 Eastchester Road in The Bronx strives to provide the best coffee and island food. Their slogan “food and culture” works to capture their true mission — to provide the community with great food and an exceptional experience. The founder and CEO, former schoolteacher, Jerry McDonald took a leap of faith to make his entrepreneurial goal of entering the food industry come true.

After doing his research and asking for advice from friends and family, he quit his full-time job and made his dream a reality. Despite COVID restrictions, Coffee Bay Restaurant has thrived, with 4.8 stars on Google Maps and reviews raving about the restaurant’s cozy and culture-enriched environment and food.

What inspired you to want to go into the food/restaurant industry?

Well, I’ve always been a food lover! Growing up, I was around a lot of people in the food industry. My mom was a chef and my grandparents owned a few restaurants and food shops. While I had this exposure from my childhood, the thing that truly inspired me to join the food industry was an experience I had working with a friend. Back in 2013,  I was helping a friend with the marketing aspects of his restaurant. While I was working with him, I observed how he ran his restaurant and I fell in love with how people look when they enjoy good food and receive excellent service. After seeing that I said to myself, “Someday, I’m going to open a restaurant”. 

What were some challenges you encountered opening Coffee Bay Restaurant during the pandemic?

I’ve always been someone to go against the odds and do the impossible. When I told my friends I wanted to open Coffee Bay, they thought I was crazy. They said to me, “Are you crazy, Jerry? How could you possibly open a restaurant in the middle of a pandemic?” While the pandemic was economically a challenge, I always knew that if I could succeed during the toughest times, I could be soaring high in the best of times. I also knew that one day the pandemic would end, and that food is the staff of life — people always consume food and drink coffee. With this in mind, I made the decision to continue with my goal of opening a restaurant, even through the toughest of times. 

What is something you think has contributed to Coffee Bay’s success? 

There are two major things that have contributed to Coffee Bay’s success — my mom and the community. My mom has been there from the start, helping me with all aspects of Coffee Bay. The Eastchester community has also played a huge part in Coffee Bay’s success, welcoming us from the start, people in the community were willing to give us a try. They loved the food and started spreading the word, and that’s how we’re still here today! 

What types of events have you done at Coffee Bay to bring the community joy? 

Well, due to COVID, we haven’t been able to host any official events here at Coffee Bay, we haven’t even had an official Grand Opening. However, we do have an awesome incentive program to reward our customers for spreading the word about Coffee Bay. You could get a 10% discount for suggesting the food or even bring a new friend to Coffee Bay!

As summer approaches, what are your plans to have fun, COVID-friendly, community events? 

We have so many fun activities and events planned for the summer! We plan to have our Grand Opening on July 3rd and later down the line a “Coffee and Chill” event, an event called “Keys and Vocals” where we’ll be hosting a live musician, and a barbeque for the 47th NYPD precinct. 

How do you envision the growth of Coffee Bay, what do you think it will look like 5 years from now? 

As Coffee Bay becomes more of a household name, we plan to continue growing by opening more locations. Five years from now I hope to have at least three Coffee Bay locations and further in the future, locations all around America and the West Indies. We have the best food in New York City, and I hope to share it with all the world someday! 

Small business restaurants like Coffee Bay Restaurant are important to provide the community with delicious tasting food and provide a comfortable, friendly environment through tough times such as this pandemic. Jerry McDonald has been actively working toward his mission to provide the best experience and customer service at Coffee Bay Restaurant. To catch a delicious bite and stay up to date with community events at Coffee Bay Restaurant, check out their Instagram and website

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